Soulful Saturday: When receiving shows more strength than giving

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you desperately need the companionship and support of friends but can’t bring yourself to ask or even tell them that you’re in a bad place? This is one pattern of behavior I’ve honed to an art form. Rather than admit how I feel, I joke. It’s so much easier to make light of things than admit how dark they’ve gotten.

This is a pattern I developed in childhood. I was the oldest child of four born to two 16 year old parents. To say that the folks in our neighborhood were waiting with clucking tongues to see what failures we’d turn out to be would be an understatement. We often needed help – to pay rent, to cover school expenses, to replace clothes and other items lost in a fire. As a result I developed a deep aversion to seeking help because when I needed it in the past, there was a price to pay.

I can clearly remember receiving donations after my family had a serious fire. The nuns who ran my elementary school and the local church had taken up a collection. Rather than let my family determine what we needed, one of the nuns took me and my sister clothes shopping. It was a disaster. She refused to accept that I did not fit into girls’ sized clothing. As a result I ended up with a wardrobe of pants that split the first time I sat down in them. When I tried to explain things to the nun her response was that I should be grateful for the opportunity to get new clothes at all.

I remember when my maternal grandmother died and my mother asked her uncle (her mother’s brother) for a loan to cover the costs of opening the grave site. He refused and Mom borrowed the money from her boss. However her uncle proceeded to tell the rest of the family that he loaned her the money and she never paid him back.

I remember attending events for my father’s side of the family and realizing that we were the poor relations. There were always subtle little comments and attitudes that I sensed. Ways in which we were made to feel inferior. My father’s two sisters both had lovely homes in the suburbs with cars and other “white picket fence” accoutrements. We were often invited to their homes for a weekend but when we invited the cousins to visit us there was a subtle air of horror on my aunts’ expressions as thought we’d suggested some type of ritual sacrifice. The implication was that somehow where we lived and how we lived was beneath their children.

As a result of these experiences, as well as a possible genetic predisposition towards stubbornness and hard-headedness (what my mother likes to call “thickness”), asking for help was not high on our list of family skills. Unfortunately this is not something I’ve felt a need to change. Any “favor” that makes me feel looked down upon tends to raise my hackles.

Why am I bringing all this up? Because I have to assume I’m not the only person suffering from this malady. I seem to have a reduced 6 of Pentacles energy. I don’t mind giving but I hate receiving. I’m starting to realize that being able to ask for help and support is actually a sign of strength, not weakness. It shows that I’m confident enough in who I am to understand accepting aid is a powerful sign of self-confidence. It shows that I can accept assistance because doing so doesn’t make me inferior or weak. It makes me practical with a well-developed, healthy ego. Right now I can’t say that but it’s definitely a work in progress.

Thoughtful Thor’s Day: Accumulating vs. Minimizing

I have recently realized that I have hoarder tendencies. I seem to confuse the owning of things with acquiring knowledge – as long as I have the book then I will attain the information it possesses through osmosis and won’t need to actually read it. As a result I tend to hold on to book much longer than necessary. This has recently become a problem because I am running out of space. I have stacks of books piled all around the house. I have also managed to accumulate a collection of Barbie and fashion dolls in which I no longer have the interest I once did. I look at these things and wonder how the hell this happened?

The books I understand – I love reading and always have. As a child I didn’t always have the funds to purchase books (thank all the gods for libraries) so once I got a job and had some extra income it was natural that’s where a portion of my salary would go. I now have shelves overflowing with books ranging from cookbooks to herbal and alternative healing to paganism and Tarot. I have occasionally found myself releasing a book because I no longer have a strong interest in the topic only to reacquire it a few years later and I fall down yet another rabbit hole.

My accumulation tendencies are offset by bouts of minimalism. I become determined to clear out the clutter and ruthlessly weed out books I know I’ll never read/use. I set to work and donate piles of books to a local library’s used book store or list them on Paperback Swap. I become focused and driven, determined to reduce the amount of “stuff” I have. When the bloodletting is done I look around with pride at what I’ve managed to cut away. Then two weeks later I find myself looking for one of the books sacrificed in the purge and end up re-acquiring it. And the cycle continues. I’m hopeless.

Tarot Truths Tyr’s Day: The Hierophant – Blue Rose Tarot

Blue Rose Hierophant

Blue Rose Tarot
Designed by Paula Gibby
Produced by Soul Guidance

The Book says:  The Hierophant helps us build a bridge between the physical and spiritual planes.  He is the Holy Teacher like Moses, Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Lao Tze, and Confucius among others.  “The are our guides, our wisdom teachers.  They are essential.

They are a gift from the Universe.

The High Priestess and Hierophant work in concert to assist us in achieving our spiritual goals.  They provide the foundation for our spiritual journey.  The mysterious and at times unfathomable, nature of the High Priestess is tempered by the orderly assistance of her consort.

In essence, the High Priestess gifts us with the intuition and inner vision to perceive the spiritual plane.  The Hierophant helps us draft our intinerary, draw our roadmap and provides us with teh tools, techniques and rituals to keep us focused enought to keep the goal in sight and complete the journey.”

TarotBroad’s Buzz: I have to admit that I absolutely adore this card. Something about it speaks to me of ancient wisdom being passed on in a somewhat furtive manner. The students both seem female to me (I may be wrong) and the fact that they are seeking the knowledge possessed by this scholar seems both empowering and brave. After all in many of those cultures, even know, women are not permitted to know this secret wisdom. But they are defying the rules to find their path to divine knowledge.There is something rich and wondrous in this card. The scholar seems so focused on his books that he seems almost unaware of the women, but they are obviously enthralled by what he represents.

This card represents ancient wisdom, lore and knowledge that has been passed on for generations; and an almost unquenchable thirst to learn and to absorb. The old scholar seems to exude knowledge, wisdom and secrets. He also seems to be dedicated and might be short with those who aren’t serious in their quest. He will help you find the secrets hidden in the ancient texts but he will not tolerate frivolous pursuits. He is only interested in helping if you are serious about your quest. This card does show some of the patriarchal connection we often see with the Hierophant. But at the same time I get the feeling that he loves this knowledge too much to hoard it. He will share it but only if he is convinced that the seeker will be as dedicated and passionate as he is. He will serve as the guide, but only for the serious seeker.

Shadow Side Saturday: Supernatural’s Nasty Angels & Humorous Demons

Okay – I might have mentioned that I’ve become a fan of the show Supernatural (okay, full disclosure – I love the Impala and Dean). One of the aspect I’ve found fascinating is the portrayal of angels and demons on the show. The writers have chosen to make these creatures complex, multi-faceted characters. There is no simplistic belief that all angels are good and all demons are bad. There have been angels who commit atrocities in the righteous belief that they are doing God’s work. There have also been demons who help the shows’ two protagonists (monster hunting brothers Dean & Sam Winchester) due to enlightened self-interest. This is one of the most appealing aspects of the show for me (well after the two brothers).

Sam & Dean Winchester with Baby

Sam & Dean Winchester with Baby

In many New Age and modern traditions, angels are seen as winged guardians and helpers; beings who are there to protect and help humanity when possible. However when one explores more ancient Judeo-Christian tradition we see far different descriptions of angels and their responsibilities. They are God’s soldiers and police force. When humanity doesn’t toe the line and Yahweh has had enough of his recalcitrant, disobedient creations he sends his angels down to smite us. Let’s face it, Michael the Archangel could give Norman Schwarzkopf tips in the art of war. How many times has Yahweh punished humanity using the angels? Yahweh can be fairly unforgiving and rather vindictive. The angels are the ones who administer Yahweh’s justice.

There are angels who watch humanity, recording and remembering what we do. Apparently they do not interfere in humans’ lives unless instructed to do so. There are angels who support Yahweh’s throne and sing his praises. The archangels are often portrayed as Yahweh’s right hands, his lieutenants. There are the cherubim with their four different faces (ox, lion, human and eagle). None of these creatures seem to be the warm and fuzzy angelic beings so prevalent in New Age thought today.

Uriel

Uriel – an angel who has no use for humanity

Over the course of the several seasons since angels have appeared on Supernatural they have proven to be vindictive, violent, willing to maim, torture and brutalize in order to achieve their goals. They often cloak their actions with claims that they are God’s will or for the greater good but they are as violent and destructive as any demon. Their willingness to smite entire towns in order to achieve their goals is frightening and quite eye-opening. When the angels turn their wrath on each other, the havoc created is . . . cosmic.

Naomi

Naomi – angelic torturer

There are angels who willingly torture other angels during various battles for supremacy in Heaven. Angels who willingly ally with demons to achieve their goals. There are angels who happily sacrifice human lives and souls in pursuit of their agendas. Many of the angels in Supernatural are portrayed as looking down upon humans – referring to them as “mud monkeys” and “larva”. These angels are infuriated by Yahweh’s favoritism towards humanity. They may be forced to help us but they’re not happy about it. While the individual angels may not be based in ancient tradition, some of their actions are similar to those described in the Bible.

CastielSeason9

Castiel – a helpful angel (most of the time)

In the Supernatural universe, even demons have different levels. Some demons are humans whose souls were corrupted due to their behaviors and decisions while living. Some (like Lucifer and Azazel) are fallen angels who defied Yahweh and were punished. Others (like Lilith) were created by the fallen angels and never lived as humans. You also have such well-known demons as Cain and the Knights of Hell he helped create. Based on the description, the Knights of Hell sound like the demonic equivalent of archangels. Demons can possess humans and take over their bodies, forcing them to engage in horrific acts that often leave the hosts traumatized, assuming they survive the experience.

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Meg the demon – a former enemy turned mistrusted ally.

Most of the demons behave in ways we might expect – seducing and corrupting humans to the dark side, committing acts of mayhem and violence and bartering for human souls. Some are more violent and aggressive than others. Crossroad demons are rather like persistent salespeople – the won’t pursue you but once you make a deal with one you can be sure she or he will collect.

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Crowley – King of the Crossroads and King of Hell

Over the course of the series some demons have proven very helpful to the Winchester brothers – although their motivations were not always clear or benevolent. Ruby shows up at the start of Season 3 with a demon-slaying knife that aids the brothers in slaying some of the demons that escaped when the devil’s gate opened. Crowley, King of the Crossroads, has proven quite helpful to the brothers during their efforts to defeat Lucifer and short-circuit Armageddon. Even Meg, a demon who was quite an enemy of the brothers in Season 1, returns in later seasons and prove to be quite an asset. The Winchester brothers can never full trust these demons because each time their helpfulness has proven to mask a hidden agenda. Sometimes their aid is not worth the price that must be paid.

Angel or demon, in Supernatural all have the ability to prove dangerous to humanity. As Dean has noted numerous times “Angels are dicks” and if one is a believer in free will this certainly will seem to be the case. Angels appear to ensure we follow God’s cosmic plan for us. If we resist they tend to get aggressive in their efforts to bring us in line. Demons are corrupting influences and, as expected, quite detrimental to humanity’s spiritual health. However they also raise several valid points regarding humanity’s tendency towards self-destruction and the fact that we cause more damage to each other than any demons ever could. I find these portrayals both thought provoking and refreshing. Instead of falling into the simplistic approach that angels are good and have humanity’s best interests at heart and demons are bad, corrupting and evil influences, the writers have created a multitude of shades of gray. For better or worse, these are not your grandmother’s angels or demons.

Thoughtful Thor’s Day: Stagnation and Change – what can I do if I can’t move?

I’m sure I’ve posted before about the current situation in my life – I am a stay at home caregiver for an elderly, ailing mother-in-law and a disabled brother-in-law. Had anyone told me 5 years ago this is what I’d be doing I would have insisted they were certifiable. I was determined that I would never, ever become a mother or caregiver to anything more needy and dependent than my dog. Fate had an ironic way of proving me wrong. After getting fired from my job and realizing that the in-laws couldn’t really live without a caregiver, I ended up stepping into that role. Hubby helps out when he can (which is often a lot) but he also has to take care of things like shopping and fixing things around the house so he is often not here. That means the care and feeding of the inmates falls to me. If I say I detest it with every fiber of my being that still wouldn’t be strong enough.

Don’t misunderstand – I chose to do this because I was unwilling to see them institutionalized. However I did not expect my mother-in-law to still be hanging in there after 6 years. It wearing me out body and soul. I am losing interesting in everything but junk food. I feel like the real me has left the building and what is left behind is someone I don’t know. It’s worse than any horror movie I can imagine.

So what can I do? Well one obvious solution is to throw in the towel, admit defeat and have them institutionalized. This would not be my first choice for a variety of reasons. Once I take that stand then I limit my other options. That means my ability to leave the house is severely limited. So I need to find other ways to express myself creatively, spiritually and emotionally. Having conversations with either in-law is not happening. Inviting friends or relatives over is another pointless endeavor. It’s impossible to give them any undivided attention and sitting here all day sucks.

So what can I do about this stagnation and stuckness? I don’t know. I’m trying several approaches to the problem and I’m not sure what will work yet. One path is journaling. Sometimes just writing all the anger, frustration, confusion and sadness on paper helps purge it from my system. Another option is to keep connection with my social network. This is a bit trickier now that I’m not on Facebook but I can still use emails, AIM and (believe it or not) the telephone. Sometimes just the sound of another human voice and the ability to have sensible conversations can be quite a relief. Another tool that I’ve woefully neglected is spirituality. I know I feel better when I do a daily devotional and yet I keep procrastinating. It’s time to kick my ass in gear and take a few minutes every day to sharpen this saw.

So far I’ve just taken some baby steps towards pulling myself out of this stagnating pool that is my life. I still need to motivate myself to keep taking these steps otherwise I’ll be in over my head. The last thing I need is to drown in my own misery. I’m tired of being miserable (of course I do say that a lot). If I want to change things then I need to take action. I know this. I know it very well. Now I have to do something about it.

Tarot Truths Tyr’s Day: The Sage – Transformational Tarot

Transformational Sage

Transformation Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Book Says: Having faith in one’s higher consciousness or the power of the universe. Ancient knowledge will guide you. A deeper connection can be experienced through meditation and ritual. The seeker’s compassion, empathy, values, ethics, and insight draws others to him or her. This card can also denote both the need to find a deeper meaning in life and the assistance from a wise person. The Sage can also stand for a spiritual leader, psychologist or a nonconformist acting as a guide or teacher.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card speaks to me of the wisdom and the ancient knowledge to be found in the world around us and the traditions of our ancestors. The African deities remind me of our connection to each other and to our history. They indicate a thread that weaves its way through the rich tapestry that is human history, like the DNA that connects humans to our ancient foremother (“Mitochondrial Eve”). The glorious colored autumn leaves are the reminder that all things change. Life is about change and cycles.

But just as the fall foliage reminds us of life’s ever-changing nature, the green leaves on the branches below remind us that there is an underlying continuity to everything. The Universe has a core, a center, that remains the same no matter what chaos roars around it. The green leaves are that still center, the eye of the hurricane. They symbolize the concept that life goes on – bits and pieces may change but the pattern of the Universe continues to weave its story. To me The Sage is the reminder that we are connected to the Divine in the world. We are all part of the same tapestry, just as all humans are connected by our DNA. And if we can find that still place within ourselves and learn to connect with that divine source, then we will be able to face whatever changes and chaos roar in our own lives too.

Supernatural Thrall – on the road in a ’67 Impala

Okay, I admit it. I came late to the game but I have become a full-fledged Supernatural freak. I watched the show when it first came on but it was scheduled on Thursday nights and I had classes so I usually missed it, then I just fell out of the habit. A friend was recently enthusing about the show and I decided to try again. I can’t believe I waited this long. It has everything I love in a show – great chemistry between the brothers, interesting plots and a kickass car! I was a huge fan of The Night Stalker TV show in the ’70s and this series picks up where it left off and takes it to a whole new level.

To be honest, I have also become obsessed with Dean Winchester the older brother. The actor, Jensen Ackles, is a good-looking piece of eye-candy but he also makes Dean likeable and sympathetic despite his jackass, bossy tendencies. I connect with Dean for a variety of reasons. As an older sibling I understand the desire to protect the younger ones. I get that smug superiority that the eldest can sometimes exude. At the same time Dean is filled with self-doubt, low self-esteem and a desire for his father’s approval. I identify with all of those things. I know I can project an air of confidence and disdain for the approval of others but deep inside I’m often craving that very thing.

I understand Dean’s “good son” persona. I don’t know if this is something all eldest children feel but as a child I felt a desperate need to live up to my parents’ expectations of me. I often felt like I was held to a different, higher standard than my siblings. It wasn’t until I was older that I was able to break this pattern.

I am also drawn to Dean’s dark side. That ability to enter Hell or Purgatory and survive. When in these situations Dean can seem amoral, willing to do whatever it takes to survive. I sometimes sense that if I didn’t keep a hold on myself I could easily slip into amorality. In fact when I was younger my mother used to tell me I was unmoralistic – I knew what morals were but felt no need to apply them to myself or convinced myself that I was but that my standards were different.

Watching Dean go through his trials and lessons has opened my eyes to certain character traits in my own personality that might benefit from some tweaking. It’s also convinced me that deep down inside I want desperately to be a badass! So here’s to yet another journey down the road in the ’67 Impala. Who knows what other lessons I might learn?

The Winchester Brothers and Baby